An Ethical Approach
Under food safety legislation, namely the Food Safety (General Food Hygiene) Regulations 1995, it is the legal duty of the operator of a food business to maintain food equipment and premises in a clean condition.
The introductory of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 has created the legal requirement for all buildings to have a Fire Risk Assessment undertaken. To comply with the legislation, any identified fire hazard must be removed, controlled or minimised where possible.
The order is designed to provide a minimum fire safety standard in all non-domestic premises including parts of premises used for the purposes of an employer’s undertaking, which is made available to employees as a place of work, and used in connection with the carrying of a trade, business or other undertaking, for profit or not, with a few exceptions. If it is a workplace it designates the employer, if he/she has to some extent control, the Responsible Person (RP). If any other person has to some extent control then they could have duties under the order. If it is not a workplace then any person having control to some extent or the owner and can be designated the Responsible Person. Those persons or a person acting on their behalf, are required to carry out certain fire safety duties which include ensuring the general fire precautions are satisfactory and conducting a fire risk assessment.
Health & Safety
Under the provisions of the Healthy & Safety at Work Act 1974, it is the responsibility of the employer to ensure the health, safety and welfare of all parties. This includes staff and customers. An absence of adequate control renders the business operator liable to criminal action. The absence of an effective system for maintaining ventilation extraction systems could readily lead to fire and subsequent injury or death of either building occupants or of third parties such as fire officers. Any such event would be likely to result in legal action under the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974.
The Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007 is a landmark in law. For the first time, companies and organisations can be found guilty of corporate manslaughter as a result of serious management failures resulting in a gross breach of a duty of care.
The management team should be aware that if a property insurer can show that the systems employed to protect an installation were inadequate and this led to the loss of all or part of a building, any claim can be disputed. Where the company loses a criminal case, any civil claim will inevitably fail as, under civil law, the burden of proof is on the balance of probabilities rather than beyond all reasonable doubt.
Other legislation & guidance